Writing to win: persuasive writing techniques
Persuasive writing helps you get what you want. Whether you write marketing copy or policies and procedures, these persuasive devices are worth knowing.
You’ve probably heard of Aristotle’s ethos, logos and pathos. But you can also classify rhetorical arguments into 4 groups. Dr Neil James, internationally renowned plain language expert, classifies the rhetorical arguments into the following groups:
Read on for our practical tips for persuasive writing. For more information about the difference between writing to win arguments and writing to inform, read our blog Writing for readers, writing to inform.
Convert with proofs of consequence
In this scenario, you need to convince staff to implement a sustainability initiative. Here are 3 example arguments to persuade your colleagues.
Our company is a certified B Corporation. If we don’t implement this initiative, we could lose our certification and damage our reputation.
The last time we failed to implement sustainability measures, we were fined for misrepresented sustainability statements.
The initiative is relatively low cost but will improve our sustainability rating significantly.
Why do proofs of consequence work?
Proofs of consequence work because they unambiguously show readers the benefits they get or problems they avoid by agreeing. These are the strongest arguments, so try to lead with them to persuade your readers.
Sway with proofs of example
In this scenario, you work at a large technology company. The company is moving, and you’re trying to convince decision-makers to use the company, Chartreuse Movers. Here are 3 example arguments to persuade decision-makers.
Our sibling company, International Blue Machines, used this company to move and found the process efficient and successful.
Other large technology companies in Australia have used this company, in fact it’s a preferred supplier.
Going with an unknown mover would be like asking a passer-by to collect your child from kindergarten.
Why do proofs of example work?
Proofs of example work because it shows that what you’re proposing will work. They help your readers understand your argument more easily. Use these to expand on your main argument.
Persuade with proofs of authority
In this scenario, you think your government agency would benefit from a plain language program. You must convince the decision-makers within your unit. Here are 3 example arguments to persuade decision-makers.
Turn writing at work into writing that works with our ISO-aligned plain language system.
Convince with proofs of definition
In this scenario, you want to upgrade your company’s project management software. You’ve been relying on Excel while the business grows. You need to convince your manager. Here are 3 example arguments to persuade your manager.
By definition, project managers need the correct software to do their jobs effectively.
Our contracts with clients state that we’re responsible for managing projects efficiently and effectively. And this software will allow us to manage projects efficiently and effectively.
We spoke to the project managers in our company who use Excel. They all agreed that Excel was no longer fit for purpose and that we should upgrade to the dedicated management software.
Why proofs of definition work (or don’t)
If other proofs aren’t available, proofs of definition can work because they qualify your argument. These are the weakest proofs because they’re often procedural and give information rather than focusing on benefits or examples.
Learn to persuade with our communication workshops
Poor writing and communication may lead to mistakes that cost your company time and money. And professionals who attend our workshops report that their communication skills improve significantly.
See what we did there? That’s right, we used proofs of example.
We offer online and face-to-face workshops wherever you are around Australia. Or take advantage of our state-of-the-art training facilities from Brisbane to Perth. You can find descriptions of all our workshops on our website or contact our friendly team for help choosing the right workshop for you.
And to help you write clearly and persuasively every day, we have our free Australian Style Guide. This resource covers the most common style questions for Australian professionals.
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